Three Democrats are seeking a seat on the Santa Fe County Commission, representing District 3, which encompasses the southern part of the county, stretching nearly all the way to the city of Santa Fe.
The three, Donald Reece, Filandro Anaya and Rudy Garcia, will face off in the June 5 primary election. Incumbent Robert Anaya is term-limited out of office.
Robert Anaya’s brother Mike Anaya, also a former commissioner in that district, changed his party affiliation and is running unopposed as an independent candidate.
Reece and Garcia have not run for office previously, while Filandro Anaya spent 12 years on the Moriarty-Edgewood School District’s board. Each were interviewed by The Independent this week. A common theme among the men was better representation for the Edgewood area.
Filandro “Phil” Anaya said he is running for the Santa Fe County Commission because “we haven’t had any representation in Edgewood—true representation. Edgewood is in Santa Fe County, even though it’s its own little government, and we need to make it to where we get a lot more recognition from the county.”
Anaya is on the County Development Review Committee, the county’s planning and zoning board, along with the board of the Estancia Basin Resource Association, or EBRA.
He said the biggest strength he would bring to the position if elected is his experience with infrastructure and finances, along with his experience from serving on the school board. “Being in construction, I have a pretty good background in knowing the financial side, the policy-making side—it’s not anything new to me,” he said.
“My motivation is to help the people from the community,” Anaya said. “I’m really focusing on what counts, the people. I don’t have any motivation for myself.”
Asked what his priorities would be if elected, Anaya said, “It sounds kind of funny, but my priorities are really what the people’s needs are. I want to work on all of it. I don’t want to take just one project and say that’s it.”
He listed safety as his No. 1 priority. “That just means my eye will never get off that subject, but my ears are going to be able to listen to all of the other ones.”
Communication is an issue for the county, Anaya said, citing its previous satellite office in Edgewood. “Who knew about that?”
Priorities for services in the southern part of the county include infrastructure, fire and safety, roads, and things for kids and senior citizens to do.
He said, “The only roadblocks I see would be in the line of communications, getting everybody to the table.”
Anaya said he is easy to reach by telephone. “If people have issues, call me. I’m not afraid to talk to people and I don’t want to hide from people. That’s a lot of the problem politicians have—they get elected and then they hide.”
Asked if he has ever been convicted of a crime, Anaya replied, “No.”
Anaya had a heart transplant several years ago, when he said he experienced “what most people call heaven,” and later had a Cadillac fall on top of him as he changed the oil. Those experiences “were life changing” and Anaya said he now has “a whole different perspective.” He added, “I just want to help.”
Rudy N. Garcia
Rudy Garcia said he was born and raised in Santa Fe County, and resides in La Cienega, north of Cerrillos.
He has spent the past 26 years working for Santa Fe County in jobs ranging from the tax assessor’s office, to the planning and zoning department, constituent liaison, and legislative liaison. If elected, he will have to resign from his county job.
“I’ve been a public servant all my life,” Garcia said when asked why he is running for office. “I know what it is to work for the government and what it is to be a public servant.”
Garcia said he would work to expand services in the Edgewood area, mentioning infrastructure for water and sewer and senior services. The county runs the Edgewood Senior Center.
Garcia also applauded the county’s vote to spend $3 for expansion of First Choice’s medical clinic in Edgewood, and said he helped bring the clinic to town.
Communication between the county and the town of Edgewood would be a high priority if elected, Garcia said. “What I would like to do is have Santa Fe County sit down with the town of Edgewood to see how to work different things out. … I myself believe the county can pony up some money. Let’s get the town of Edgewood some money. They live in Santa Fe County—the county and the city, we’re one government.”
Garcia said he supports a satellite county office in Edgewood “if only for 3 or 4 hours.” He said, “They tried it and it kind of died—they just didn’t follow through with it. We need to continue that and make it work.”
Garcia also said he supports having the county commission meet in the Edgewood area at least a few times a year, if allowed by law, and said he would work to change legislation if it is not allowed.
“The county has a communication challenge,” Garcia said when asked what his priorities in office would be if elected. He also mentioned water and sewer infrastructure, and said he would investigate desalinization of Estancia Basin water “to see if we can make it drinkable water.”
He would like to increase services for the community. “Where and what do kids do?” Garcia asked. “Where do seniors go, not just the senior centers? … We have no money to build a facility but we can assist with programming and operating needs.”
Another goal would be to meet with commissioners from Bernalillo and Torrance counties to “come together with some ideas—we need to come together for what we need to do for this area.”
Obstacles the county faces include water and communication between governments.
Asked if he has ever been convicted of a crime, Garcia answered, “No, I’ve not been convicted of a crime.”
Strengths he would bring to the seat include “my expertise, my knowledge of the county and public service.” He defined public service as “basically walking people through the process, … educating the public, assisting the public.” Garcia said he likes county government because it is very accessible to the people.
Garcia concluded that he “would like to put Edgewood back on the map—that’s what needs to happen down there.”
Donald Reece is running for elected office for the first time. “One major reason is because we need to have a change—not a change with [Robert Anaya] but a change of mindset with the county. We need a lot more progressive-type endeavors here in southern Santa Fe County.
A lifelong New Mexico resident who lives in Stanley, Reece is on the board of the Santa Fe County Health Policy and Planning Commission, and previously served on the boards of the Make a Wish Program, the American Lung Association and other nonprofits. He retired from the Cenders for Disease Control and Prevention after 27 years.
Reece said he would like to see an accredited college in the area and would work “to get the business community growing,” adding, “We need more restaurants, we need a movie theater—it’s not just for Edgewood. Madrid, Golden, Galisteo, Stanley, there needs to be some kind of economic opportunity for those communities.” He said he would encourage tax breaks to bring new business in, and said he would meet with existing business owners “to make sure it’s fair for everyone,” adding, “I’ve never been in politics before, so I’m not real sure how these things work.”
Reece said the county should hold commission meetings in the Edgewood area at least a few times a year.
Reece cited his work on the health policy committee as an example of community involvement leading to “a community health action plan, a community health assessment, mobile health care van, and we are starting to work on a crisis center.” He said the county is spending $2.2 million to build a mental and behavioral crisis center “versus filling up the jail.”
The Edgewood area needs a hospital, Reece said. “We have such a growing population of the elderly,” he explained, adding, “To prevent them going 45 minutes to an hour each way would really help with their quality of life.”
He said a hospital would “draw from Santa Rosa, Tucumcari [and] Estancia” and said it would help those hurt in accidents on the freeway.
“There needs to be things for people to do. Movie theaters, places to shop, some type of art institute to show up and do stuff like a flea market. … We need something for our kids to do. When I was a growing up we had a teen center. I would work with the community and talk to parents to see what would work.”
Community involvement is a priority for Reece, who said, “It shouldn’t be five people making decisions for the county.”
Priorities if elected would include bringing business to the area to increase jobs. “Second would be to look at how we distribute funding for roads, water systems, sewer systems, and if we need, to bring it up to par with the rest of the county. Third is how to improve help for the elderly, not only at senior citizen centers, but with ride programs, meal programs, hospice programs, and any help we can provide them.”
Obstacles faced by the county “has been all the rules and laws to awarding funds to get these things done.”
Asked if he has ever been convicted of a crime, Reece answered, “No.”
“I’m not real sure what I can do on the county commission as an individual,” Reece said. “But as a body I hope we can work together to bring things into the county that would help citizens of the county.”